By Alli Collis
BROWNSTOWN, Ill. (July 4) — Brandon Sheppard’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals hot streak continued on Tuesday night at Fayette County Speedway. Leading all but the first circuit of the 50-lap Fourth of July special, the New Berlin, Ill., driver scored his fifth straight Hell Tour victory.
“We’ve been running Summernationals for a long time,” Sheppard said. “This has always been the goal, just to keep winning races. It’s just been awesome. We’ve had a really good car. Mark Richards has taken me under his wing since 2012 and teaches me everything he knows. I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Edging ahead of polesitter Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., as the pair exited turn four, Sheppard took the lead on the second lap, cruising over the field until the race was slowed by its first caution on lap six.
Sheppard held his lead on the restart, with sixth-starting Babb using the momentum to pull ahead of Marlar and take over the second-place spot on lap eight. With Sheppard moving in to lapped traffic on lap 18, the battle for the runner-up spot continued behind him, as Babb fought back challenges from Marlar and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill.
With Sheppard stretching his lead to almost a full straightaway late in the race, the tight battle for second continued, with Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., advancing from the 12th starting spot to join the front runners.
Sheppard sailed to his 16th career Summernationals victory, with a close finish behind him. Babb ran second, with Pierce edging ahead of Frank at the checkers to finish third. Rallying from the 21st starting spot, Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., rounded out the top five.
“I was just good enough in the bottom to where i could stay in front of them and move to the top and get to the right line and keep going,” Sheppard said. “It was just another great night. We hope we can keep it going. We were thinking about taking tomorrow night off. But how can you take a night off now? I guess we’re headed to Belleville.”
After clocking the evening’s overall fast time, Babb finished runner-up to Sheppard for the second straight night.
“I think it was just top dominant,” Babb said. “On the start the bottom was real good and we were real fortunate to be able to start sixth and get in that bottom and get to where we got to. But I could tell the bottom was wearing down and slowing down. That momentum is always hard to beat. We just got up there and held on. I know Bobby (Pierce) was all over us, but we had the line. We ran as hard as we did to get a good finish.”
FEATURE: 1. Brandon Sheppard; 2. Shannon Babb; 3. Bobby Pierce; 4. Chub Frank; 5. Gordy Gundaker; 5. Mike Marlar; 6. Ryan Unzicker; 7. Tim Manville; 8. Tyler Erb; 9. Tanner English; 10. Rusty Schlenk; 11. Bob Gardner; 12. Billy Moyer Jr.; 13. Jordan Bauer; 14. Brent Larson; 15. Brian Shirley; 16. Jason Feger; 17. Kyle Bronson; 18. Austin Theiss; 19. Michael Kloos; 20. Daryn Klein.